Fresno, Calif. - Paul Hurth has been in prison for about 17-years. He's set to be released sometime next month, but for security reasons no exact date has been announced. It was a case that captivated the Valley back in the year 2000. Hurth, a Fresno police officer and minister, found guilty of voluntary manslaughter and sentenced to 21 years in prison. Now, he's on the verge of freedom.
The last time we saw Paul Hurth he was shackled inside a federal courtroom in 2009. Hurth was convicted nine years earlier of shooting and killing Ralph Gawor, the husband of his lover. Sentenced to 21 years in prison Hurth's legal team was trying to have the case thrown out.
"If even one juror has come to a verdict based on outside influences the court has to reverse," said Hurth's attorney Kent Russell.
Hurth's sentence was upheld and now 17 years after the deadly love triangle he's preparing to be released from prison. State officials say he'll be out sometime in December. Legal expert David Mugridge says by the law his release makes sense.
"A murder there has to be a specific intent and in this case the jury did not find a specific intent to kill. He did eventually kill an individual, but that wasn't his purpose and plan when he went over there," said Mugridge.
We dug up court documents for this case that outline how Hurth shot and killed Ralph Gawor while in police uniform with his service weapon.
"The judge had it in his mind that he took advantage of a specific trust that we have. Not only in a police officer, but trust you would have in a minister," said Mugridge.
Mugridge says the aftermath of the killing is what led to Hurth's max sentence.
"Say a few things to a couple of officers, go home, go to church a couple days later and preach to his congregation as if nothing ever happened showed there was a lot of callousness here," said Mugridge.
The California Department of Corrections will not confirm exactly when Hurth will be released from prison, but they say they will confirm it once it happens. Hurth is serving a determinate sentence so he will be released and won't be subject to a parole hearing or supervision.